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Coffee Talk with HLC and 4DX

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Guest Post by  Lore Carvajal & George Gregg

An imagined conversation between the two about GCC…

What would happen if HLC and 4DX met at the local coffee shop and started chatting about GCC? What would they say?  Would they have anything in common to say about us? Would they disagree with each other? Let’s listen in…

HLC: Hey, 4DX!  Great to see you!  How are things going with you?

4DX: Hi HLC!  Things are pretty busy. Wow, 2022, huh?

HLC: I know, right? It’s been crazy. I can’t believe we’re coming up on two full years in this pandemic. I am so over it.

4DX: Yeah, it’s been a real grind for everyone.  The whirlwind of daily activity is even more stressful and energy is at a low.  It’s definitely a challenge for people to stay motivated and engaged in strategic planning under these circumstances, even though it’s critical to do.

HLC: You’re not thinking of giving up, are you? My Criterion 5 is all about strategic planning!

4DX: Absolutely not!  Colleges can’t simply say “it’s too much” and stop planning for their future.   

HLC: Good to hear. That’s one of the things I’m always looking at, whether a college has its feet firmly planted on the bedrock of its Values while still looking ahead with realistic intentions and outcomes to accomplish their Mission. Our students and communities deserve that.

4DX:  Yep. I’ve been working with Glendale Community College over the past several months and, even though they have been dealing with significant challenges – the pandemic, resourcing, competition and market forces – they are still diligent about strategic planning. The whole college is involved, not only in the planning, but also in the execution part. It’s pretty impressive.

HLC: That’s SO encouraging to hear!  I’m meeting with GCC in February. Hearing that they are working hard to set plans in order to fulfill their institutional Mission – and follow-through and carry them out – is what I’m all about. They are tying their plans to their Mission and Values, right?

4DX: You bet! Their new strategic plan, which they call Focus 2024, identifies their most important strategic goals to accomplish their Mission, and is based on their Values. And I’m helping them structure how they prioritize which of those strategic goals will receive college-wide focus and engagement in the coming year, with individual team goals tied directly to college Values.

HLC:  Wow…that sounds…pretty integrated. You don’t see that all the time.

4DX: GCC is serious about strategy integration. Horizontally and vertically. They’re definitely ahead of the curve.

HLC: Really encouraging! They aren’t thinking this is just a new initiative or something…?  Are they also doing the hard work of defining what progress really looks like and what each team will do to achieve it? And are the team members engaged in deciding what their team goals will be and meeting regularly to track progress? Those are all really important to me from a shared governance and institutional effectiveness standpoint.

4DX: What?? You know me better than that!  You know I’m all about measurable indicators designed by the team, and the weekly meetings to track goal progress together!

HLC: Hah, yeah – you’re all about “focus on the wildly important”, and “from X to Y by when” and “scoreboards are more engaging when they’re designed by the players”.

4DX: You better believe it!  How else do you expect people to get excited about what they’re doing? I don’t do “top-down”. 

HLC: But that means each team member bears responsibility for engaging in goal-setting as well as being willing to be held accountable for those goals by the rest of their team, right?

4DX: Yes, and it’s not easy. It takes real work, commitment and an intentional culture change for folks that aren’t used to it.  But from what I’ve seen, GCC is up to the task. They’re putting in the hard work and starting their “Run” phase just this month! 

HLC: Well, it all sounds really good. I look forward to talking more with GCC in February about their hard work and engagement with you. I’ve met with other colleges and universities you’ve been working with. The results I’ve seen are pretty impressive. 

4DX: I’m definitely encouraged.  And I’ve also seen some of the work GCC has been doing to prepare for their accreditation meeting with you. I think you’re going to be very happy with what you see.

HLC: It sounds like GCC is pretty awesome.  I’m looking forward to my visit in February!

4DX: Oh, and they have some pretty good coffee shops there, too…
HLC: Perfect.

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